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The Week in Tech: Social Media Faces Another Election Test

Category: Science & Tech,Technology

Crazy, right? Not so fast, says my colleague Kevin Roose. We shouldn’t be letting Facebook off the hook so easily. It was months of pressure that made Facebook take disinformation issues seriously. Just because we made it through the midterms without a significant impact from disinformation doesn’t mean meddlers won’t give it another try somewhere else in the world.

No doubt, it wasn’t for lack of trying by a Russia-linked group. The day before the election, Facebook, acting on a tip from the F.B.I., took down a handful of rogue accounts linked to a Russian troll outfit, the Internet Research Agency. Finally, Facebook and law enforcement officials seem to be on the same page in the disinformation fight.

I guess we should be happy that things didn’t go completely sideways after two years of scrutiny and preparation. Perhaps, at least for a moment, we can breathe a collective sigh of relief.

That is, until the next Election Day.

Here are a handful of other things you may have missed last week:

■ In a last-minute decision, Amazon appears close to deciding on splitting its second headquarters outside Seattle, settling on locations in Long Island City, in Queens, and Arlington, Va. There is a growing concern among critics that Amazon has played cities in a prolonged game to get the best possible deal on taxes and concessions from local government leaders.

■ After a New York Times article shed light on a history of sexual harassment scandals at Google, workers at the company’s global offices walked out in protest last week. Now, Google has acquiesced to at least part of the workers’ list of demands, overhauling its sexual harassment policies.

■ In more Google news, the company is said to be shopping for new real estate in New York City, which could result in a 1.3-million-square-foot expansion into St. John’s Terminal in the West Village. The site, if it goes through, is expected to be finished in 2022. An expansion of that size could more than double the number of workers Google employs in New York, which is now around 7,000.

■ Facebook released its Portal video chat device this week, the first piece of hardware it has built from the ground up. I tested the Portal and Portal Plus units with my colleague Farhad Manjoo and found them useful, if not otherwise creepy because of Facebook’s privacy scandals.


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